Athletes differ over benefit of pre-competition routines

Many athletes have superstitions or something that they do before every sporting event. Is there something about these that help people perform? Does sticking to a certain routine before every game or practice help one excel at what they do? 

According to the website for the Sportlab company that makes products for athletes, following a routine can be very beneficial to helping athletes perform. “Various scientific studies have shown that athletes who follow a routine before a competition obtain significantly better performance than those who do not follow one.” 

So what superstitions do people have, and do they believe that they are helpful to their sports? 

“For football, I always stop talking about 20 minutes before we arrive at the school. I would put my uniform on, go to the field warmup and then pray in the end zone before every game. For basketball I do the same;I pray before I play. I follow this with every sport. I find that staying in a routine helps me, and it helps me stay focused,” Peet freshman Josh Grete said. 

A lot of people have something that they follow before every game or every meet. I like to stay in a routine. I feel that before every race, eating about three hours before always helps me. I tend to stick with a Slim 1 from Jimmy Johns. I have found out that it treats my stomach right and is enough nutrition to be able to perform, but not too much to overfill the gut. I like to stay in this routine, as it leads me to being more confident. 

In a blog post by Levi Nelson entitled How does a mental routine help?, he said, “Mental routines improve confidence as they increase the consistency of an athlete’s thinking. Thinking about the past, future or things outside of their control distracts the athlete from the task at hand. Instead of focusing on the external, mental routines reduce anxiety by keeping an individual on the right track and allow one to maximize their time. The familiarity improves confidence by reminding athletes they have done this before.” 

Nelson serves as a high school football coach who is pursuing his doctorate in sport and performance psychology.

Having a routine or a superstition that one person follows can be good, but how does the opposite side feel?

Sophomore John Ferguson said, “I don’t really have a routine. I just make sure that I pack all of my stuff, and then I go with the flow. I have school lunch like normal, and I just go with the flow. Sometimes before a race I walk around. Other times I lie down in the tent and get a nap in. I like to go with the flow so I don’t stress before the race. I feel like having a certain routine can be negative because you can stress a lot over it if something goes wrong.”

So while some people have superstitions and routines that they do before every game or sporting event, others just like to go with the flow. There are benefits to both sides, and everyone is different and likes to do things differently.

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